Saturday, March 31, 2012

Dorodango IV

This is number 4. Almost perfectly round , not as shiny, but no hairline cracks.

This is number two. shinier but hairline cracks.

Below is the other side of this ball. I had added some water and now i cant get it smooth and shiny again.

Making Dorodangos has proved an interesting past time, but I will spend less time on it. It is a Zen activity and I will continue. It is nice to hold while siting at home. Now i would like to see what happens when I use same technique on wall plaster. i think a black polished clay wall in small sections could be cool looking. But it scratches easily.

I have learned :

- Yes clay can become shiny, it makes sense.
-at some point you can only smoothen and you can't restructure it won't bind together
-sometimes add more water.
-drying speed is important, otherwise cracks
-experience, experiment
-when adding dust don't polish
-has to be in bags
-in beginning get the water off, dry with cloth, later dry with clay dust
-it cracks try to add another layer, you cant close it.
-the broken one shows clay was not all mixed.
-only polish after fully dry

Thursday, March 29, 2012


Last year I borrowed some scaffolding long term, and bought some more. Helps speed building up and is safer.

Previously we used wood, piled up blocks and bricks.

We are putting on more brick arches on the groined vault, cantilevering them out so we get a bit of overhang.
This space outside didn't allow us to put in our scaffolding and we have all these telephone poles from my Internet business waiting to be installed. So this is what we did. It is rock solid but will only be used for a few days.

brick railing

The jury is still out , at least in my mind. I would appreciate brutal comments.

On this veranda I needed a railing and thought up this . I was concerned how it will look, how strong it is , and the expense. The bricks are mostly overburnt rejects, the mortar after the first two courses are clay/sand , the pointing is portland cement/sand. the last row the bricks are stood on side and then there is 12x 10 cm reinforced concrete with a smooth finish on top.

Me? I think I like it over the steel railing becuase:
-It feels more secure
-gives a space to place plants, drinks, etc on
-it goes with the building
- will block view from outside
-will block some of the wind

Below is before pointing.

Why is this wood floor alternative?

So why am I posting a wood floor here?

This floor was done with salvaged 2 x 4 from our offices. We removed the wood/chipboard partitions and put in aluminum and glass.

Is that being a good steward of resources? Some other day we go into that.

So I bid on the wood from the old partitions and got a pickup load of 4x2 and chip board for $50.

I used my table saw and cut 2.5 cm strips and then put them on the floor. I nailed from the side and it is pretty tight. Now to plane and sand it smooth, fill the old nail holes. Even the walls I made of old lumber. The outside I had some 1 x 6 laying around.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Making production clay bricks by hand.

(It will take some months to finish this post, I dont have pics of all the process.)

This is how we are currently making clay bricks. We use clay from our site , add 40% volcanic sand, mix, mould, dry, stack kiln, burn with waste charcoal dust, cool, stack outside for sale.

Getting the clay.

Volcanic Sand.

Mixing the clay and sand.

These guys are strong and fit. In square pits the mix clay and sand 60/40%. They add water and mix with their feet like grape wine making. We let it sit a day, then mix again.
The brick mould is metal with 4 partitions. It is cleaned in the sink to the left. There is a board underneath.

they know pretty exactly how much to put in the moulds with shovels.
He presses the mixture into the moulds

thens smoothens it out and removes excess or adds it not enough.

Erasto carries the mould onto the cement floor and flipped over nesxt to the last one.

the plate is slid off the top and the either smoothed with a board or their hands.then the mould is lifted straight up. We get a slight variation on brick thickness, 1-3 mm difference. When building the bricks should be laid upside down to how they were stamped out.

The bricks are let to dry for 1-2 days. A good moulder can do 400-600 bricks a day. It is piece work .
Once they are stiff they scrap off any lip on the brick cornors on the bottom and stand the brick up for 2-3 days to dry faster.

then the bricks are stacked up to the ceiling for 3-5 weeks of drying.

As they become dry we stack the kiln. The kiln has 6 tunnels. Some years ago they were left open and logs were pushed in for 3-4 days to burn the bricks. Firewood is expensive, scarce, and unethical. So we learned to burn using waste charcoal dust. Most of the tunnels are filled with charcoal bricks we make. they are stacked loose. In the first few courses we put these same charcoal bricks about 1/6. after course 10 we sprinkle the dust on top of each course.. Bricks are stacked loosely. We put in 24 courses, about 3.5 meters high.

a later of old reject bricks is packed tightly over the whole kiln as insullation.


We start the kiln with firewood in the morning. we brick up the openings by noon.
second day we add some more wood. then the charcoal burns it way slowly in the next 3-4 days.

after burning and cooling we have to remove the bricks and stack outside. Dust work. They have masks but mostly choose not to wear.

this particular burning something happened and 1/3 of the bricks are under burnt. useable but not top quality.

Hussein is carrying 18 bricks. 54kgs or 120lbs. Each person removes and stacks 1000 bricks per day.
Broken bricks . Some are useable some are now rubble.
The kiln is x . Rainwater is caught off the roof. The bricks on top of the wall are used later to cover the kiln as insulation.

Making bricks

posted from Bloggeroid

Monday, March 26, 2012

Dorodango III

Sunday while working on Nashesha's wood floor I added some more fine clay dust to the ball each time I had to go outside for something. By late in the day it was really smooth but no shine.

I rode out to talk with Freddy and he came back with me and I gave him the ball to rub while I picked up Bernice in town. The power was off so I couldnt see it well that evening, but woke up to this:

Unfortunately it has some cracks

So taday I started some more in the morning but with some fine sand. Not sure how to prevent the cracks during and after the polishing section.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Dorodango II

Ok, so no one went to research Dorodango.

And if someone did read this, what does this have to do with building?

Well , as I started this blog it was more for "notes and pictures' for reference. However, I believe it will have relevance for my interests in building. The more I understand soil the better.

It starts a bit like this.
At this stage I started to lose interest.

this morning it felt smoother.

then i read more and put on 10 coats of clay dust.

amazingly smooth but I haven't experienced the shine like this pic from the Internet.

It would be too time consuming but it makes me wonder more about clay tiles.

Friday, March 23, 2012

This is what I need to be doing.

This is the Barris Market constructed by Hassan Fathy in Egypt. He was very talented architect, chose mostly to build housing for masses.

Maybe i work too hard at perfection. This is a spectacular building with very low quality placement of individual bricks.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


You can go read about this activity yourself.

What I have to say is that has got me thinking more about the way we make our clay bricks.

posted from Bloggeroid